Louisiana REALTORS 2017 Legislative Wins.
Louisiana REALTORS 2017 Legislative Wins.
Louisiana REALTORS® sponsored Senate Bill 108 by Senator Bodi White passed the Senate and House of Representatives and has been signed by the Governor. This legislation is an amendment to an existing statute and adds criminal penalties for a violation. The amendment becomes effective August 1, 2017.
Louisiana REALTORS® held its first Designation & Certification Summer Camp from June 12-16 at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Lake Charles, LA. The week long event featured top notch national instructors that touched on a variety of topics to help REALTORS® develop their knowledge and concentrate on skills to better serve their clients.
The 2017 Legislative Session was great for REALTORS and for homeowners. LR was successful at preventing new sales tax on services as well as passing legislation that penalizes those that practice without a license. Norman Morris, CEO provides a short recap of those wins in this last legislative session report.
Norman Morris, CEO urges attendance at Louisiana REALTORS' first Designation & Certification Summer Camp event taking place next week in Lake Charles, LA. There is a topic that fits all experience levels and instructors that will deliver top notch education to increase the skills of attendees to better serve their clients.
The. U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy is hosting a series of roundtables seeking input from financial and real estate services. The purpose of each roundtable is to hear directly from local small businesses about what regulations concern them. This will be an opportunity for small business leaders to educate Advocacy and federal agencies through first-hand accounts of how federal regulations impact their small business.
The legislative session is set to end by June 8th. The Senate is currently reviewing and debating the 2018 state budget passed by the House. Most of the proposed taxes on real estate services and business either have failed passage or were not brought forth for a committee vote. Read on for the updates on all the legislative activity.
Louisiana sales tax proposal for Netflix, landscaping, massages, other services is dead
The Times-Picayune • New Orleans, La • May 15, 2017
By: Julia O’Donoghue
Louisiana legislation to start taxing a variety of products and services -- everything from Netflix and Spotify to landscaping and massages -- is dead for the current legislative session, its sponsor says. Rep. Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, pulled the sales tax bill from consideration by a House committee on Monday (May 15) after delaying it for weeks.
"At some point in time, you have to deal with reality," said Reynolds, the House Democratic Caucus chairman. "I didn't want to waste time and have my political capital spent" on legislation that wasn't going to pass.
It was another blow to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' efforts to maintain public services without huge spending cuts to help close a projected $1.3 billion budget deficit in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018. Reynold's House Bill 655 was the last major, remaining piece of Edwards' tax package, after other elements were voted down by the House Ways and Means Committee or abandoned by sponsors before that panel could vote on them.
Expanding the sales tax to new areas has been suggested for Louisiana by liberal and conservative tax experts alike, and was one of the strongest recommendations made earlier this year by a task force that was set up by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Reynolds' bill was meant to generate revenue that could replace existing money produced by Louisiana's current sales tax rate. The general concept is to lower the sales tax but apply it to more goods and services.
The proposal would have applied the sales tax to streaming entertainment services such as Netflix, Hulu, satellite radio, Spotify and Amazon Prime. A number of other of services -- massages, landscaping, certain types of debt collection and insurance appraisals, among them -- also would have been newly subjected to the sales tax. The expanded tax was supposed to go into place Oct. 1.
It would have produced about $153 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1. In budget years after that, it would have produced about $202 million, according to an analysis done by the legislative fiscal office.
That would not fully replace the $880 million lost when the state sales tax falls in mid-2018 from 5 percent to 4 percent. It would have covered slightly less than one quarter of the sales tax revenue reduction.
Louisiana wasn't the only state to look at taxing Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Spotify and similar services. Pennsylvania implemented a similar tax last year. Several California cities and Alabama have also considered "Netflix tax".
The proposal to expand the sales tax to these services is an attempt to adjust to consumer purchasing patterns. People used to buy or rent videos at a retail store and pay sales tax on the transaction. Now, they are streaming that content online and not paying sales tax.
"Most state sales tax laws are really old and outdated. They were written in the 1930s," said John Buhl, media manager with the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan, conservative think tank during an interview in April. "As the economy changes, we are seeing states' sales tax bases shrink."
Outside of streaming services, here are some other items that the Reynolds' bill would have taxed:
· Massage parlors, escort services, Turkish baths, steam baths
· Debt collection, though this would not include child support debts or some debts collected by attorneys. Exceptions would also be included for some trusts.
· Credit reporting services, including services that assemble credit histories and ratings for individuals
· Insurance services, including the assessment of insurance losses, damage and appraisal. This also would include insurance inspections, investigations, analysis and research, as well as insurance claims adjustments and processing.
· Landscaping, lawn maintenance and rubbish, solid waste and garbage collection. Janitors, custodial services and pest control also would be taxes.
· Data processing, including some payroll and some business accounting services. This also would apply to word processing, data entry, data production and data search, whether done by a human being or machine.
· Security services
· Telephone answering services
· Information services, including electronic data retrieval and specialized news services such as those for financial information. Newspaper, radio and television stations approved by the Federal Communications Commission would be excluded.
Due to the proactive efforts of the Louisiana REALTORS' Legislative Team, a successful REALTOR Day event, and over 2,000 REALTORS that responded to a Call for Action HB 655 was deferred. This is a great win in protecting homeownership in Louisiana!
The Louisiana Legislature's 2017 regular session reaches its midpoint Tuesday (May 9) with no clear direction on how lawmakers will rewrite the state's tax laws, if they can reach agreement at all. Some signs of progress emerged Monday as the House tax committee started advancing proposals for consideration, but without any promise that lawmakers on the committee would support the ideas on the House floor.
Out of more than 900 bills filed for the session, none has reached the governor's desk. Portions of Gov. John Bel Edwards' legislative agenda have run into significant opposition, with his main tax bill already jettisoned.
The two-month session must end by June 8. Here's where things stand:
Edwards said a tax overhaul is needed to stabilize Louisiana's finances, end years of budget shortfalls and compensate for the expiration of $1.3 billion in temporary taxes in mid-2018. But the Democratic governor's main revenue-raising proposal, to charge a new tax on businesses' gross receipts, failed to gain any traction, and he's since shelved the idea.
Awaiting debate on the Senate floor are measures that would lessen tax breaks. But with most tax bills required to start in the House, senators have only modest work they can do.
House Republican leaders have yet to rally around a specific package of bills. On Monday, the House Ways and Means Committee started advancing measures to change laws governing corporate taxes, individual income taxes and various tax break programs. The panel didn't vote on concepts but simply forwarded them to the full House for consideration while negotiations continue behind the scenes.
Although House GOP leaders haven't embraced a specific plan for tax policy, they have adopted their approach to next year's more than $29 billion state operating budget. They propose to spend 2.5 percent less than the full forecast of what Louisiana is expected to collect in general state tax dollars, to hedge against concerns the forecast could come up short and force midyear cuts.
House Democrats and Edwards say leaving $235 million on the table could force damaging and unnecessary cuts across government in the fiscal year that begins July 1. Republicans say the Edwards administration is using scare tactics.
Almost all Democrats opposed the budget proposal approved by the House last week. Negotiations shifted to the Senate on Monday.
Beyond taxes, other Edwards-backed proposals appear to be in trouble. An effort to raise Louisiana's minimum wage hasn't yet received a hearing, and the governor's push for new equal pay laws in Louisiana hit a roadblock in the House labor committee, which killed one of his proposals. The full Senate will debate a second measure requiring private businesses to pay the same wages to men and women who perform the same work. But if it advances out of the Senate, it will head to the House labor committee.
Proposals to rewrite Louisiana's criminal sentencing laws, the goal being to lessen Louisiana's tops-in-the-U.S. incarceration rate, are advancing. But some already have been watered down amid resistance from district attorneys, and more revisions are expected.
Besides financial haggling, lawmakers have embarked on other contentious debates:
· The House will debate a measure aimed at protecting Confederate monuments by requiring voter approval before they could be removed from public property
· The Senate will consider whether to ban use of the death penalty in Louisiana.
Some bills already have been shelved:
· The House voted down a bill to shorten the wait for a divorce when the married couple has children younger than 18.
· A House committee rejected a proposal to restore the voting rights of convicted felons on probation or parole
· Senators refused to require TOPS students to live in the state for several years or reimburse Louisiana for part of their tuition costs
Louisiana REALTORS® held a successful REALTOR® Day in conjunction with the SPRING INTO ACTION Conference last week. Over 500 attendees representing all areas of the state attended the one-day event in Baton Rouge and the presence at the Capitol was noted by the legislators. We would like to extend a THANK YOU to all the local boards and volunteers that took part in the day's activities.
Louisiana REALTORS conducted an extensive bill review session on Tuesday, April 18 and selected approximately 300 bills to monitor over the 2017 Legislative Session.
Source: The Times-Picayune • New Orleans, La • April 25, 2017
By: Julia O’Donoghue
The lynchpin of Gov. John Bel Edwards' plan to overhaul Louisiana's tax system was killed in a Louisiana House committee Tuesday (April 25). Edwards couldn't muster enough votes for his commercial activity tax, contained in House Bill 628, even after significantly lowering the amount of money businesses would actually have to pay as a result of the measure.
Rep. Sam Jones, who was sponsoring the bill for the governor, asked that the legislation be "voluntarily deferred" -- rather than having a vote that would kill it. The move allowed Democrats and others on the committee -- who might not want to choose between supporting the Democratic governor and the business community -- to avoid having to make a decision on the bill at all.
When Edwards initially announced his plan for the commercial activity tax, it was supposed to raise between $800 million and $900 million annually. By the time it came before the committee Tuesday, it was only expected to generate $288 million annually. The House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax policy for the Legislature, still wasn't willing to vote for it.
The commercial activity tax was essentially a gross receipts tax on the sales of goods and services. It acts like a sales tax except the seller, not the buyer, pays it. It also applies to many more transactions than the sales tax in Louisiana.
Over the 24 hours before it came up in committee, the Edwards administration made significant changes to the bill to try to generate more support for it. They removed S-corporations -- such as limited liability companies and partnerships -- from being subjected to it in an effort to answer the concerns of smaller businesses. They also lowered the amount of tax many of the remaining entities subjected to it would have had to pay.
Still, representatives from the oil and gas industry, homebuilders, paper mills, a local restaurant chain and the state's small business association testified that it would devastate them Tuesday. "This bill is going to kill the very industry we depend on," said Chris John, of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association.
Donny Rouse, representing Rouses Supermarkets, also said his business would be significantly affected by the commercial activity tax -- even though the governor's team had tried to amend it to ease the concerns of grocery stores. Rouse said he operates on too tight a profit margin to pay a tax on every item he sells in his 45 stores in Louisiana.
"This would double what we pay the state in taxes currently," he said in an interview. "This would be a tax, whether we make a profit or not."
Edwards had proposed the commercial activity tax as a replacement to the higher sales tax rate that is set to expire on July 1, 2018. When the state sales tax rate drops from five percent to four percent, it will create a $880 million hole in the state budget. The governor and House Republican leadership have not reached an agreement on how to close that budget gap yet.
Legislative session is well underway in the state's capitall! Last Tuesday, Louisiana REALTORS® was prepared to testify against House Bill 562, which proposes a professional services tax on immovable property, but that legislation was not heard in committee. LR was successful in moving its sponsored legislation out of the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
Directors who are unable to attend the meeting are asked to submit a request for an excused absence.
The Louisiana Legislature convened today, Monday, April 10th. The major focus of the 60-day session will be on the budget deficit facing the state. Tax measures, budget bills, criminal justice reform and TOPS issues will be discussed and debated. Louisiana REALTORS® will be heavily engaged on several tax measures and other bills to ensure the real estate industry and its members are not negatively impacted.
Candidates have submitted Officer Applications for 2018. Applications and resumes for each candidate can now be viewed. The election will take place at the next Board of Directors meeting during the Spring to Action Legislative Conference on Thursday, May 4, 2017.
As the 2017 Louisiana Legislative Session kicks off on April 10, LR is calling for an industry wide effort to oppose any taxes that will impact small businesses and the real estate industry.
This year REALTORS are encouraged to attend and participate in REALTOR DAY on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. It is important during the 2017 Legislative Session for REALTORS to rally together and advocate on behalf of consumers to protect home ownership in Louisiana.
At LR's annual Leadership Conference, the 2017 Board of Directors in honor of esteemed colleague Dianne McAdams, a colorectal cancer survivor, approved a resolution to pledge and commit to embracing the shared goal of reaching 80% screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.